Once you start learning a language, no matter what language, there is one thing you will always need. A dictionary. No matter if you are a beginner or almost fluent you will still need it. However, the question is, what dictionary do you need. A book, an online one, an electronic dictionary, or just a simple one on your phone. Is it worth investing in a good dictionary, or are the free options better?
I am going to compare a few different options.
- Online: Naver Dictionary & Daum Dictionary
- Book: NTC’s compact Korean and English Dictionary
- Electronic: NurianX30 electronic dictionary
- Phone: Dictionary App (this was already on my phone when I purchased it in Korea)
First of all let’s start with the simple word for house in English and Korean (집) : This is no problem for all the tried options, however the online, electronic and phone dictionaries give me a wide variety of example sentences such this one from naver dictionary.
as I was looking for the key to my house.집 열쇠를 찾고 있었다
Now the other way around. For the online and phone option you need to have a Korean keyboard installed. For most computers not a problem but this might be a problem for some phones. Again this is no problem on the online, electronic and phone dictionaries and gives a nice list of examples and translations.
Now for the NTC’s Compact Korean and English Dictionary it is a pain in the ass to even find a simple word if you are looking at Korean to English. Since the Korean words are listed by how they are written in Romanization. It took me a good 10 minutes to only find the word for house and it doesn’t even give me examples.
Now for something a bit more difficult. Let’s find the meaning of ~고 싶다.
Let’s start online with both Naver and Daum dictionary.
This is what Daum dictionary could come up with. Thanks to the bing translation there is an exact translation however I don’t trust bing and figuring it out from the examples given is possible but still a little bit difficult.
Luckily Naver dictionary gave me and exact translation and a few examples to go with it. Even my phone did better then Daum dictionary although I had to change the search word to 싶다. But it gave me an exact translation and quite a few examples to go with it. The same with my electronic dictionary, I had to adjust the search word but I did find what I was looking for. I gave up with the paper dictionary or else I wouldn’t even be able to finish this article.
Next up, something that is most difficult. Let’s find the meaning of a Korean proverb. 작은 고추가 맵다 is one of my favorite ones because it gave me and my friends a good laugh back in the day. Literally it means small peppers are spicy but it is used with the meaning don’t underestimate the small things.
Daum dictionary couldn’t find the proverb even when I changed up the keywords a little bit. Naver however, proves once again why I love it so much and it gave me this as a translation.
Don’t ever underestimate the little man. 작은 남자를 과소평가하지 말라. (작은 고추가 맵다.)